Requeening Queenless Hive of Older Bees

Discussion in 'Raising Queens' started by riverbee, Jun 19, 2012.

  1. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    i received a phone call last evening from a beek friend of mine in minnesota, so thought i would post this question. the scenario is he has a russian hybrid hive (russian/carni queen) developed from a 5 frame nuc last june. the hive built up well, (2 or 3 deeps) overwintered well, was a strong hive coming into spring. in late april or early may he cleaned off the bottom board and reports he hasn’t seen the queen or eggs since, (and may have reversed). (mia queen kia, due to beekeep error most likely, now beside the point.) later, (about may 6[SUP]th[/SUP] ),he removed a number of frames with swarm cells and varying ages of brood, shakes of bees, to make up a 9 frame deep nuc. that nuc is doing well and has raised it’s own queen.

    the parent hive has now been queenless since the bottom board cleaning and the bees have failed to requeen themselves, even though they had been given 2 frames of brood and eggs.

    he wants to requeen the parent hive with a russian hybrid queen from the same producer that sold him the original nuc hives, however these bees are now much older, having been queenless since early may, yet have produced 100 lbs of honey. he reports there are no signs of laying workers. i suspect trying to requeen this hive would be difficult, and a success rate questionable at best, given that these are older bees. he wants to try requeening.

    i suggested that he place two frames of brood and eggs in (from another hive), near the placement of the queen. lay the queen on the top of the frames and observe the bees behavior, which most likely might tell him how well they well accept her to begin with. place the queen in leaving the cap or piece of tape on the cage(jz bz cage) for 24-48 hours, then remove the cap/tape and let the bees release her. (delayed release).

    the producer told him essentially above as i did, brushing the bees from the donor hives, and warned of the success rate, but recommended manually releasing her after 2 or 3 days, rather than a delayed release. any thoughts or other suggestions from others i might pass onto him. he has ordered the queen and will be requeening friday or saturday.
     
  2. Barbarian

    Barbarian New Member

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    Some of the details suggest that the hive may not be queenless. There could be a queen present that has not started to lay. Trying to re-queen could be an expensive failure.

    There are some signs that would indicate the presence of a queen. The bees would be behaving purposely. Bringing in nectar and pollen are positive signs. Polishing the empty cells in the brood area is positive. Running all round the frames like headless chickens is a negative sign.

    My long distance suggestion would be to put the new queen in a holding nucleus whilst sorting out the parent colony.

    I am sure you will get other comments and am prepared to accept that I could be way off mark. .:grin:
     

  3. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    a Barbarian snip...

    There are some signs that would indicate the presence of a queen. The bees would be behaving purposely. Bringing in nectar and pollen are positive signs. Polishing the empty cells in the brood area is positive. Running all round the frames like headless chickens is a negative sign.

    My long distance suggestion would be to put the new queen in a holding nucleus whilst sorting out the parent colony.

    tecumseh:
    couldn't have said it any better myself. as I suspect you also know riverbee the russians are reported to be difficult to requeen which would also reinforce Barbarian 'long distance suggestion'.
     
  4. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    thank you both for your replies. russian bees do have some peculiar traits about them, as far as my own experience with requeening tec, i have not experienced the difficulties as some beeks have reported. i think some of the information about requeening russians is undeserved, for example, keeps unfamiliar with russians panic when the queen stops laying and see the broodnest being backfilled in a nectar /pollen dearth, and think their hives are queenless.

    russians also have this survival tenacity for building and maintaining supercedure queen cells throughout the season, in the event that the hive loses its queen, or replaces a failing queen. i leave them alone, many keeps unfamiliar with this trait will mash them, and i think he said he had been mashing these.

    to his credit, the beek has been keeping bees for 30 years, russians only a 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] season. i suspect he has the ability to find and locate a queen, (although has described these bees as a management challenge, being unfamiliar with some of their quirks), or recognize when a hive is queenless. he is quite certain they are queenless and does describe lack of purpose, other traditional signs, ‘headless chickens’, and extreme defensiveness. a roar in the hive when the cover is lifted, bees flying in the face and multiple stings to the gloves, very cranky unhappy bees, etc.

    i am uncertain as to why the bees have failed to requeen themselves with the brood frames he said they were given, other than to say to his discredit, he can be impatient and impulsive at times. checking the hive and pulling the frames out to check on the bees progress one too many times when he should have left them alone. (and did so). so i am just guessing that one too many hive manipulations created the queenless hive of bees and question whether or not or how well these older bees will now accept a new queen, and the best way to do it.

    i would not join this hive with another, they are too snarly. if it were my hive, i would give requeening a whirl, i would have nothing to lose except the cost, and the queen, or i lose a hive of once productive bees . in the big picture 30$ is minimal especially if it meets with success. considering the timing, if it were successful, the bees would have plenty of time to build again before winter.

    additional thoughts welcome.:grin:
     
  5. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    just an update on my beek friend in minnesota who requeened a hive of older bees. he said he placed three frames of brood in the queenless hive last friday, with the new queen (jz bz cage) between the brood frames, but left the cap on the cage and said he was not going to remove the cap for 5 days and then manually release her :confused:......
    my thought was leave the cap on 24 hours, then remove it, and let the bees do the rest. they will either accept her or not, leaving the cap on for 5 days seemed a bit extreme to me.
     
  6. G3farms

    G3farms New Member

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    I also like Barbarians answer and it is a good one.

    I think your friends approach is to mask the pheromones of the new queen with the pheromones of the brood frames hoping that the hive will accept her after the smell of the brood frames starts to wane and the smell of the new queen starts to be slowly spread through out the hive. makes sense to my little pea brain anyway.

    I am wanting to know how this turns out for him, please keep us posted.
     
  7. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    thanks g3,
    i will post back, curious myself. he believed the hive to be queenless, and barbarians answer was a good reply. i have placed queens 'on hold' myself a time or two to find i had a new queen in a snarly hive who had not started laying, or had just started. i originally advised him to use 2 brood frames, so 3 frames is even better, but did not agree with him on leaving the cap on the cage for 5 days?
     
  8. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    an update, my beek friend in minnesota said the requeening of the older hive failed. he said he put the cage in with 3 frames of brood, and bees, left the cap on the cage for 5 days, and after the 5th day, manually released the queen. he said the bees seemed agitated after he released the queen......uh oh....:confused:. 2 days later, he went in looking for the new queen, he said he did not find her.

    i disagreed with him about leaving the cap on the cage for 5 days and the manual release, and i thought he should have brushed the bees off the donor frames. also going into the hive 2 days after the release, this did not seem prudent to me. he did say there was a supercedure cell present on one of the frames when he put the queen in, then went back in and destroyed the cell while the queen was in the cage?

    i have to read between the lines sometimes with him, and i personally think he doomed his own hive, asks for thoughts and advice from 2 of us, doesn't follow it, and is impatient. so really not sure what he has done or has going on in this hive. i myself was interested in how older foragers would accept a new queen with the recommended methods given by the breeder, which were not followed. i was sort of miffed at him, but i think sometimes, having kept bees for 30 years, he is not open to trying something different and is stuck in an old brain of keeping bees. :roll:
     
  9. RE Jones

    RE Jones New Member

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    Why do keeps continue to mash queen cells regardless of what they are?
    I think the bees know what they are doing and if they want a queen cell for whatever reason, let them have it.
    Robert
     
  10. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    robert, i don't disagree with you on this, however i think this time it would be an exception. he was trying to requeen a hive that he says was queenless since late april, early may, so older bees. the breeder advised that requeening this hive of older bees might be difficult, and did recommend removing any cells present in the hive to give the queen a better chance of acceptance before putting the cage in. he removed the cell after he placed the queen cage in, i think he said a day or two later. first i think he should have followed the breeder's advice, and 2nd, having placed the cage in their with the cell present, not going back into the hive, disrupt it by removing the cell, i would have left it alone.
     
  11. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    If the hive was queenless since early May, there would be practically no bees left in it anymore, even taking into account a couple frames of brood added at some point. I think there's a queen in there. Perhaps due to too many disruptions from the beekeep? If they produced 100 lbs of honey, I'd be wanting to keep the queen that's there!
     
  12. Zookeep

    Zookeep Active Member

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    well my thought is that he says its queenless but it cant be cause the bees keep making cells from eggs, and after 2 months if no new bees (like omie says) there would be no bees at all for the most part, they be dead from age, bees with no queen or brood dont collect 100lbs of honey either, sounds to me like the hive is what 3 or 4 boxes high? he just has not seen the queen is all, there has to be 1 for the way the hive is behaving, if he is that determined then he should just brake the hole hive down and hunt for brood, go box by box, if he finds brood just put it back together and leave them be, if they wanna replace the queen on there own let them.
     
  13. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    omie and zookeep, thanks for your replies.
    to my understanding, he has given the hive 2 or 3 frames of brood 2 or 3 times, maybe more, and i think the honey was put away before he said the hive went queenless in early warm spring weather. in retrospect, i think all are right here, a queen of some sort present, but maybe not a laying queen (no brood, no larvae, no eggs present) and he has missed her. i think he said this hive may be in 3 deeps, really not sure anymore. i was quick to defend him at finding an unmarked queen, with his experience. another variable to this is we hit a nectar dearth. russian queens stop laying. i thought maybe he didn't grasp this concept and he thought the hive was queenless (only 2nd yr with russians), and in going through the boxes too many times, killed the original queen. (she was not marked). i helped him with hiving the bees and queens a year ago.

    to tell you the truth i am kind of miffed at him, because even though i made suggestions and the breeder made suggestions, the advice was for the most part ignored, so i finally just asked why the (non disney) are you asking me? sorry, but just the way i feel about now.

    omie~
    "Perhaps due to too many disruptions from the beekeep?"
    i definitely think you are right on target with this omie, i myself think too many disruptions.

    zookeep~
    "if he is that determined then he should just brake the hole hive down and hunt for brood, go box by box, if he finds brood just put it back together and leave them be, if they wanna replace the queen on there own let them."

    zookeep, i think that has been a big part of the problem, breaking the hive down one too many times looking for a queen, especially during a nectar dearth when a queen is not laying, and to your point, 'leave them be'. i don't think he did, and impatience got the best of him, and in my opinion the hive is most likely doomed at this point.

    he is stubborn, but we are still good friends, the next time he asks me for advice, i think i will tell him to ask the bees :lol:
     
  14. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    Forgive my chiming in at this late stage, especially when it seems that any suggestion made now is really hypothetical, but....
    I would have suggested moving the "queenless" (?) hive elsewhere and put a new queen with 2 or 3 frames of sealed brood and adhering bees on the original site of the hive. The queen should be guaranteed acceptance in this situation and bees returning from their foraging would easily join forces with the "happy family" and strengthen it.
    Depending on whether one wants increase or not, the moved hive could either:
    1. Be shaken off its equipment and eliminated or,
    2. Left alone, it would get weaker and enable an easy search for the queen. If she's there--fine. If not, a weakened hive after a few days should be more prone to accepting a new queen without a fight.
     
  15. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Some people just have to learn the hard way I guess.
    I often wonder if 50% of hives that are declared 'queenless' by new BKs really just:
    ...Have either perfectly fine new queens that have not started laying yet, or the BK can't see the queen or eggs or even young brood, or are hives that have been disrupted with frame moving so often that they have not been able to establish a recognizable brood area.
     
  16. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    ef~
    "Forgive my chiming in at this late stage, especially when it seems that any suggestion made now is really hypothetical, but...."

    well, you are forgiven ef, and appreciate your advice, however i think any suggestion to him at this point will by in large be ignored and he is on his own:lol:
    however, it will be interesting to hear from him about how long the russians hang in there, if they are truly queenless.

    omie,
    "Some people just have to learn the hard way I guess."

    an understatement omie. for example i point blank asked him why he was so bent on manually releasing russian queens, reminding him of another queen he sent to her death last year. his reply to me was, "i really don't see how it matters whether she is released manually or by the bees own means" ...:???:

    so with that attitude, the hard way will involve learning by expense perhaps? :lol:

    he has kept bees for 30 years, but russian hybrids for 2 years, and i think struggles with their management quirks. also, patience is not one of his virtues, and even as an experienced keep, i think tends to manipulate his hives too often.

    i would agree with your comments about new keeps and 'queenless' hives and poking around and the moving of frames, or unnecessary disruption. these are set backs for the bees and the queen.

    even us older keeps can miss a queen :eek:...a few weeks back i myself had a hive i thought was queenless, and after 3 trips in 3 weeks through the hive, before the new queen went in, there she was, a very small slender supercedure queen, who had not been laying. i had missed her in the two previous exams. she was replaced because i felt by the looks of her, she had not mated properly.